Professor Wayne Vogl and colleagues at the University of British Columbia discovered that rorqual whales can gulp volumes of water that are bigger than their body. Nerves in the mouth and tongue make this amazing feat possible as they can actually stretch to twice their resting length without sustaining damage. Dr. Vogl was quote in CBC News saying, “The nerves that supply these remarkably expandable tissues in the floor of the mouth of rorqual whales … are very stretchy, they’re like bungee cords.” This is unusual as the nerves of most vertebrate species have fixed lengths.
Vogl AW, Lillie MA, Piscitelli MA, Goldbogen JA, Pyenson ND, Shadwick RE. Stretchy nerves are an essential component of the extreme feeding mechanism of rorqual whales. Current Biology. 25(9): R360–R361, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.03.007